Sciatica is pain, tingling, or numbness produced by an irritation of the nerve roots that lead to the sciatica nerve. The sciatic nerve is formed by the nerve roots coming out of the spinal cord into the lower back. It goes down through the buttock, then its branches extend down the back of the leg to the ankle and foot. When something presses on the sciatica nerve, like a herniated disc, it presses on that nerve which causes the pain from the buttock that can radiate all the way down to the foot. The intensity of the pressure on the nerve and where its pressed decides if it goes to the foot or less. Other causes of sciatica nerve damage:
The most common cause -a bulging or ruptured disc in the spine pressing against the nerve roots that lead to the sciatic nerve.
-Sciatica Nerve Damage can be a symptom of other conditions that affect
*Narrowing of the spinal canal due to spinal stenosis. This spinal canal narrowing pinches on the sciatica nerve.
*Bone spurs-they are growths that are small forming along joints caused by arthritis.
*Simply injury (like a car accident or fall) causing nerve root compression=again the same result-pinching the sciatica nerve.
*Pregnancy-not as common as a cause as the others listed.
*Rarely but also tumors could cause the problem also.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of sciatica include pain that begins in your back or buttock and moves down your leg and may move into your foot.
*Weakness, tingling, or numbness in the leg may also occur.
*At times a inconsistent stabbing feeling or pricking feeling in the ankle or foot
*Sitting, standing for a long time, and movements that cause the spine to flex (such asexercises using the knee to chest) which may make symptoms worse.
*Walking, lying down, and movements that extend the spine (such as press-ups) may relieve symptoms.
How is sciatica diagnosed?
Sciatica is diagnosed with a medical history and physical exam. Sometimes x-rays and other tests such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are done to help find the cause of the sciatica.
What are the Complications?
Although most people recover fully from sciatica, often without any specific treatment, sciatica can potentially cause permanent nerve damage. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience:
-Loss of feeling in the affected leg
-Weakness in the affected leg
-Loss of bowel or bladder function